Locations of visitors to this page
The Joy of Giving Grace
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 9:1-5
Track 10 of 11 in the The Freedom that Comes from Grace series
Running time: 1 hour, 02 minutes, 29 seconds.
How many of us look to the power of our purses or wallets when we consider giving to the needs of other Our wallet many times dictates what we give and in many cases, our wallets are empty so our heart for giving is empty too. But much more than that, our hearts are full of fear and again by our own power or might, not by trusting in God to provide for us, do we not give in the ways we should.

Click above to listen in this window.
Right-click to download MP3. With one-button mouse, control-click.

Be sure to scroll down to read the transcript.

Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The Joy of Giving Grace

What is it about Christmas? There is something that makes it magical. No matter how hard, how busy or how overwhelmed we can feel during this time, once Christmas comes, people are usually in the Yuletide spirit. Have you ever wondered why that is? Now I know there are exceptions out there but I know within my own home, I find this rule to be true. The smells and sounds of Christmas day always seem to have a special appeal more than any other holiday.

There are a lot of things that make up the Christmas spirit but I donít really think they are the things we normally would contribute to Christmas. As beautiful the lights are and the decorations may be, they are not the reason. As magnificent as the music and nostalgic memories might be, they arenít the reason either. Neither is the cakes, the food or the trip to Grandmaís house the reason; not even the time with friends. There is another reason that makes Christmas the most cherished of all holidays. I think Christmas, more than any other holiday, scratches the itch of grace deep within us.

I donít know about you but I find that Christmas causes me to be the most forgiving than any other time. I get to stop focusing on myself and do something tangible for someone else. What is exciting about this, I look forward to give things to others. In the simplest terms, Christmas prompts me to demonstrate grace more than at any other time.

What about you? Do you find the same thing about Christmas? Be honest, when are you the most excited, getting a gift or giving a gift to someone else that you know will make then very happy.

My daughter is really a good example of this. When she has all her presents picked out and wrapped, it is very painful for her to have to wait for others to open their presents from her. She always wants me to open my presents early. She just canít wait for people to get their gifts. Wilma Thomas does the same thing. She is always giving us our presents way early and we have to talk her into waiting for Christmas. It disappoints her to have to put the presents back and to wait.

Christmas is that one time in the year when giving to others is so exciting to experience. The feeling of Joy can be deeply felt and shared. Jesus definitely was right when he said that it is more blessed to give than receive. But once Christmas is over, it all seems to change again back to what life was like before. Once the tree comes down, the lights on the house are put away and the bills start to come in, things change. How does a person continue to feel the Christmas spirit in July?

True or False: When God created us, He intended for us to be givers.

If you want to dramatically affect the size of your worship attendance, announce that the next sermon series will be all about giving. Now be honest, how many of you when you hear this are really looking forward to listening to sermons about giving? Why?

To be honest, once October rolls around and the Christmas decorations start to pop up in the stores, deep down inside I say to myself, ďOh no, not that time of the year again.Ē It seems as though it comes earlier and earlier. I get so tired of it. To many Christians, that is exactly how they feel when the subject of giving pops up. ďOh man, here it comes, more reason for why I have to giveĒ. Think there are some reasons for why people feel this way.

It Seems Terribly Repetitive

I think MPCC approaches this right and I feel our understanding of giving is sound. All the years I have been a member here, I never once felt I was imposed upon and there were times when sacrifices had to be made. But for many Christians the message is usually overstated and wet with guilt giving remarks. Too often, instead of being instructed about giving, congregations are exhorted and often exploited. Everyone knows whatís coming, ďYou need to give more.Ē

The Whole Thing Has Been Commercialized

In many churches, grace has been separated from giving leading to greed and giving greed an opportunity to do its work. Today, everyone is more suspicious of people asking for money or handouts and for good reasons. Today there are many examples of greed showing up in the name of religion. It is becoming too common anymore. Itís no longer about doing what is right and how we can help each other; now days many give to sooth their guilt and get by as much as possible keeping what they have instead of sharing. People are leery of being taken or fooled by con-men.

There Always Seems to be a Hidden Agenda

During the Christmas season, how many stores decorate their buildings just for the fun of it? How many offer sales in order to give you a well deserved break in life?

Why are all these tactics used?

The bottom line is usually the uppermost. Unfortunately, preachers can be the same way. How many poor, under-dressed TV ministers do you see today? I donít think all of them are exploiting their congregations but in times like we have today, it looks pretty shady for some of them.

But giving has something about it that is attractive. People who give in ways that go over and above are attractive people, no matter how much money they have. What is interesting, it is usually those who have less that give the most. Then there are those people who arenít happy or content is they arenít giving something way.

What do these types of people have that many other Christians donít have? What drives them to give away as much as they can? Giving grace is addictive. What Makes Giving So Wonderfully Addictive?

For weeks now I have hammered home the concept that grace brings freedom. The by-product of grace is freedom.

I want you to consider right now how free you really are. On a scale from 1-10, how would you rate your freedom in Christ, 10 being totally free? Why did you give yourself the score you gave?
If you were to lose your physical freedom, how many of you would also lose your spiritual freedom? Can a person lose the first and still have the second? If you feel you are lacking in real freedom, what do you think is holding you back?

Last week as we talked about grace and what people were like that are full of grace, the first trait we saw was they were a model of consistent generosity. Not only were they generous, they experienced tremendous joy while doing it. For many today that is hard to comprehend. In a world that is constantly pushing us to acquire more and more things, to actually give away things is strange. But in the first century, the church was very generous and it made sure anyone in need was taken care of.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with Godís will.

I love Paulís remarks here. The gift that came from the Macedonians surprised Paul. In fact, their gift did not go as expected, it well beyond.

Did you notice where their gifts first originated from? Not from their purses or wallets, but they first gave themselves to the Lord.

Again, this all goes back to what we talked about last week. The angel told Zechariah that it is not by power or by might, but by the Spirit says the Lord. How many of us look to the power of our purses or wallets when we consider giving to the needs of other? Our wallet many times dictates what we give and in many cases, our wallets are empty so our heart for giving is empty too. But much more than that, our hearts are full of fear and again by our own power or might, not by trusting in God to provide for us, do we not give in the ways we should.

True or False: I am not free in Christ today because I wonít allow it.

Many are not free today not because God hasnít freed them, but they arenít free because they put themselves in bondage by their own attitudes, lusts and pride. They are their own task master and slave owner.

How many of you are free to do anything you want in the name of Jesus? List for me the things you can do. Are you free enough to sell everything you have and lay it at the feet of our elders?

For all of us, we have that freedom but the question is, how many wonít? I donít believe Jesus calls us to sell everything because he leaves that to each one of us to make that decision for ourselves. But how many are trapped by self imposed circumstances that prohibit them from doing what in their heart they would love to do for others and God? Are they really free?

But Giving is Really Addictive

Someone describe for me what it means to be addicted to something? Does it hurt or cause great pain when the addiction is not met? Are you addicted to generosity? Can you imagine the affects of that addiction on this church?

Why is giving so addictive? Because it helps us keep a healthy balance.

2 Corinthians 8:7 But just as you excel in everythingóin faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for usósee that you also excel in this grace of giving.

In this passage is a phrase that is deep and thought provoking. ďthis grace of givingĒ.

Someone describe what the grace of giving is. What is included? What attitudes compose this concept? How does all this bring about balance within the church?

In our church, in this class you will find that there is faith, there is good teaching, a good working knowledge of the Christian life, there is zeal, spiritual passion and a great deal of love. But what about generosity? What good are all the other parts if generosity is not also found here? The Christian life takes on a healthy balance when our taking in and giving out stay in step. It is like breathing. We require both the inhaling of oxygen and the exhaling of C02. One without the other will kill us. The same is true with a church. Why do we need this, because Jesus did the same thing himself for us?

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Why is giving so addictive? In Giving we model the same grace of Jesus.

Christmas is such a neat thing to comprehend. The next time you see the baby Jesus, look at his expression. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul says it so well. Jesus didnít come to earth because he was obligated or under a sense of duty. He didnít come here shouting back to God, Okay, Okay Iíll go. Now, there was a requirement for sure and there was a duty also but that is not what Paul writes about. Jesus came because of the grace. Grace motivated Him to come. It was grace within him that brought Him to Bethlehem as a little baby and grace within him that allowed his hands and feet to be pierced with nails to the cross.

True or False: When you give knowing there will be no gift in return, you have modeled the grace of Jesus.

Why is giving so addictive? It counteracts selfishness and covetousness.

2 Corinthians 9:1-5 There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, weónot to say anything about youówould be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

For some time, almost a whole year the Corinthian Church promised to give their offering. Their pledge had begun to wear thin. Paul wrote this part of the letter to help spur them on to finish what they decided to do with the right heart. He didnít want them to give because they were forced into it. He wanted them to complete it through grace as they started in the beginning and not let their covetousness get the best of them.

How hard is it to promise to tithe and do it? How hard is it to increase the offering after you get a raise? How tempting is it to take the additional and not raise your offering? Is the temptation there close at hand?

True or False: Lord, if I made more, I would give more!